First-half form makes these selections easier

BY foxsports • June 28, 2009

Joe Maddon and Charlie Manuel have difficult jobs ahead of them.

Maddon's Rays had the best run differential (plus-83) in the American League through Friday but were fourth in the robust American League East. Manuel's Phillies had lost nine of 10 games entering Saturday, allowing two teams (New York and Florida) to creep within one game of them atop the NL East.

But I wasn't referring to any of that.

I'm talking about their selections for the All-Star Game (July 14, FOX, 8 p.m.), for which the rosters will be announced one week from Sunday.

As you may know, the All-Star teams are determined by a procedure similar in complexity to a Canadian federal election but for the conspicuous absence of the Bloc Quebecois.

While intricate, the selection process suits the event well. Everyone has some say. The fans. The players. The coaches. The managers at large. And, finally, the men who guided their teams to the World Series the previous autumn.

The All-Star managers make seven selections apiece, but that's probably an overstatement of their autonomy. They need to make sure that every team is represented.

Well, for my personal All-Star roster, there are no such restrictions.

Given the choice between one player who has a great track record and another who had a great first half, I'll take the latter. I like it when the All-Star Game showcases the best players in baseball right now — not the best-known names from yesteryear.

Following my colleague Dayn Perry's analysis of the fan vote last week, here's how I would build the 12-man pitching staffs — irrespective of team representation and pitching schedules.